Hansberger Refrigeration Blog: Your AC Repair Resource

What Is the Link Between Your HVAC and Your Circuit Breaker?

The circuit breaker associated with HVAC components in your house ensures that each unit gets sufficient power to operate and also protects the unit from damage due to electrical overloads, short circuits, and other mishaps. Circuit breakers continuously monitor the flow of electricity and, if voltage exceeds the specifications of the circuit, the breaker automatically disconnects power to the circuit.

A residence of typical size will include 20 to 30 breakers installed in the home’s main electrical panel. These control the power to all electrical uses inside the house. However, the breakers for HVAC components may differ from those that control the standard 120-volt circuits in the house.

  • The circuit serving the powerful central air conditioner is typically a high-voltage circuit rated for 220 or 240 volts, as opposed to the standard 120-volt circuit. As such, it utilizes its own dedicated breaker. The separate air-conditioner breaker is usually installed in the AC outdoor unit, not in the indoor breaker panel.
  • If the home utilizes a central electric furnace, that unit will also typically have its own dedicated breaker that is not shared with other components in the house.

What Trips an HVAC Breaker?

Breakers protecting HVAC components may disconnect power to a unit for a variety of reasons, including:

  • A central AC may continuously short cycle, cycling on and off rapidly, due to low refrigerant or some other issue. This may eventually overheat the compressor motor and cause the breaker to trip.
  • The HVAC blower motor located in the indoor air handler may be worn out and may be drawing too much current, causing the breaker for that circuit to trip.
  • Issues that could trigger the breaker protecting an electric furnace include a clogged air filter, obstructed air vents, a failing blower fan, or internal short circuits.

For more information about issues affecting HVAC circuit breakers, contact the professionals at Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Company.